James Bay Road website

Virtual Tour of the North Road

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The North Road is a very remote road that runs from near Chibougamau to Km 275 of the James Bay Road. It is 424 km long, and is a modern gravel road, with smooth curves and hills, unpaved for its entire length. There is very little traffic - most of the traffic is trucks. The first 50 km or so are used by mammoth logging trucks. Use caution! There are numerous warning signs about them. There are no towns on the road except for Nemaska, which is 10 km north of this road at km296.

If the road is dry, expect a complete whiteout after a truck passes you.  Slow down and pull to the right as far as you can safely go.  This will help preserve your front windshield, as well as keep you out of the way if the oncoming driver does not pull over to their side of the road far enough.  Generally speaking, the truckers to be very considerate of the other vehicles on the road.  It's the occasional passenger vehicle and pickup truck being driven by a maniac that are the problem.  Watch for graders that are continually working on the road.

Generally the scenery is fairly level (some people will say it's downright boring).  The road crosses some medium-sized rivers. The road is open year-round, however, it gets VERY cold up there in the winter, so if you go in the winter, or even the fall or spring, be prepared.  In the summer it can get just as hot as down south. There are regular picnic and rest areas to stop and take a break.  There is only one campground. You may instead to choose to camp in old gravel pits, which are plentiful and usually not all that ugly. Cell phones do not work here.

I don't have many photos of the North Road. I've only been along it once. I fully intend to go back soon, and when I do, there will be a lot more photos here.

See also Travelogues, Driving the North Road.

Km 0: Beginning of the North Road, starting about 15 km north of Chibougamau, off Hwy 167.
Km 10: Graders are constantly working this road. Be on the lookout for them.
Km 11: Backroad to Chibougamau, logging road mainly, but not every day

Km 12: Waconichi Lake. There is a "Northern Arboretum" there, quite interesting to walk in the forest.
SEPAQ have some very nice camps there. (SEPAQ is the "Société des éstablissements de plein air du Québec")

Km 20: The small Barlow River. CAUTION: The bridge here is very narrow and when there are logging trucks on the road, you might have to stop very quickly just before the bridge for them -- this is dangerous if there are some more behind you!

Km 26: Backroad to Oujé-Bougoumou and Chapais -- some 46 Kms for Oujé, and 11 more for Chapais.

Km 27: Mammoth logging trucks frequent the first 50km or so of this road. Keep an eye out for them, and pull over when you see one coming (keep moving slowly, though).
Km 32: Access road to Baie Penicouane, the southern part of Mistassini Lake. SEPAQ campground there, boat ramp, picnic tables.

Km 63: Brock River

Km 65: There is a spring on the left side (northbound) of the road here.

Km 66: Samuel Bedard Lake

Km 72: It is a well-maintained, smooth, modern gravel road. But read Driving the North Road page if you choose to travel up here.
Km 77: Beaver Camp (road maintenance camp). Also access to the Lake & River Des Maures.
Canoeing: From there you can reach the Rupert River & Mistassini Lake by canoe, and then paddle down the Great Rupert!! Or stay on the "South branch", the Natastan River until Lac de La Passe, portage your way through the Marteen River waters and paddle back to the road at Km 177. Or keep going over the Natastan River until the end, paddle all Lac Mesgouez and come out at Km 221.

Km 81: Domergue Lake

Km 83
Km 98: Regneault Lake

Km 100: Frotet Lake

Km 106: Cellular phones do work here for a short ways.

Km 108: Junction of access road for the Troilus Mine, 44 Kms away.
At about km 27 of this access road, there is a gravel pit, just over the hill after crossing the Broadback River. This is the access for "Square Tail Lodge" outfitting camps. This is A world Class fishing spot, for speckled trout mainly. So far, at least 3 world records come from this camp. The biggest trout ever caught at the Lodge since opening in 1966 was 9 pounds & 9 ounces. This record catch was exceeded in 2004 with a trout weighing 12 pounds & 1 ounce!
The road turns west just after Km 108; there is a nice valley on the north side of the road. Lake Lezai is visible down there, quite pretty scenery with all the small islands in the lake.

Km 115
Km 118: Tortigny River
Here the road turns back North. Just at the curve, there is a sideroad on the left side to Cachisca & Opataca Lake. This road used to be another way to come up here, via Chapais & Oujé-Bougoumou, following the power lines for most of the way. In 1999 this sideroad road was completely washed out after the tremendous winter of 1999 (over 9 feet of snow!). When the Mistassini Lake ice melted away (headwaters of the Rupert River), the Rupert River water level went up 5 feet and stayed like that until the summer of 2000! The water level was even higher in 2004, due to Mistassini Lake ice again. The ice went out only on June 20th of 2004. The water level was already quite high but it went up another 3 feet!

Km 131: Broadback River: This river may also be seen at Km 232 of the James Bay Road.

Km 132: Cheniapiscau rest area. Picnic tables, toilets, scenic viewpoint, camping.
Camping & fishing note: This campsite and any other campsite before Km 164 are inside the SEPAQ territory. You need to register and pay for camping or any other activities inside the Reserve. No registration paper might mean a fine from the Quebec Game Wardens. They are all over the place in the summer. Same thing for fishing. First "free" fishing spot is the Marteen River at Km 178.

Km 154: Limit of the logging operations! Breathe a big sigh of relief!
Here there is a road on the left side. Just past this (northbound), there is a steep hill. Stop here! Get out of the car, climb up the rocks on the left side (northbound) and have a look at the scenery! When the air is very clear, you can see all the way to Km 108. And if you are familiar with the area, you can clearly see the Troilus Lake mountain, this is more than 60 Kms away!

Km 162: Entering the areas of Assinica, Albanel-Mistassini and Waconichi Games Preserves. 1-800-665-6527

Km 177: Marteen River. By paddling downstream from here, you can reach the Rupert River after a week or so of paddling.

Km 221: Small side road on the right hand side (north bound): access for Mesgouez Lake & the Rupert River. There is an extensive set of Cree camps here (spring fishing camps). Boat ramp, camping, fishing.

Km 232

Southern limit of the WEE-SEES-INDOHOUN Game Management Territory. New in 2003. You will need a pass (free) to fish or camp anywhere inside this special zone. Pass can be obtained at the SEPAQ office at Mont Chalco, just about 5 Kms North of Chibougamau or at the Nemiscau Quebec Hydro camp (Km 290).

Km 238: Rupert River Gorge. STOP HERE AND TAKE A LOOK. Picnic tables, toilets, shelters, fishing. Spectacular rapids!! It isn't anywhere near as big here as it is downstream where it crosses the James Bay Road. But these rapids are a seething mass of wild roaring water nonetheless.
There are plans to divert the Rupert River, upstream from here, in 2007. Get up here and see this magnificent wild river while it is still unaltered!

It is possible to camp here, but NOT at the rest area. Just before the bridge (Northbound), on the right side, there is a small road. This is the portage trail. There is room down there for 1-2 cars & tent. But if you try this, you may not sleep well during the first night ...this rapid is loud

The "cut-off" point for the Rupert River Diversion project is only about 4-5 kilometers upstream. At low water, it is possible to walk on the North shore of the River and reach this point, about a days walk.

To have another view of the Rupert River, one can walk North on the road for +/- 300m -- there is a trail there. This is the portage trail, ends in a nice "pool", where there's a nice view of the second set of rapids (Class V).

There is also another trail. Just in front of the entrance for the small road (the portage trail mentioned above), at the south side of the bridge. This trail leads right on top of the chute, one can take breathtaking pictures from there. But take great care, it is almost scary!

Same note here about fishing, you are in the WEES-SEES-INDOHOUN zone, so you need a pass.



Km 238: Bilingual stop sign at rest area: French and Cree.

Km 248: Hydro Quebec transformer station Albanel

Km 255: Hutte Lake

Km 258: Junction:
Left turn for the Route du Nord.
Right turn for the
Hydro Quebec Poste Albanel transformer station.
Straight ahead is the "Auclair" road, for a 4x4 only. Leads to the Nemiscau River (38km) & the Eastmain River (68km).

Km 285
Km 286: Lescar Hills rest area. Picnic tables, toilets, scenic viewpoint.

Km 288: Hydro Quebec Nemiscau transformer station.

Km 290: Cree Construction Garage. Gas and diesel might be available from 7-9am and 4-6pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday. But you're probably better off going into Nemaska for this.

Km 300: Access road to the village of Nemiscau (Nemaska), 10 km to the north. Gasoline, diesel, restaurant, store, lodging (819) 673-2512.

Km 330
Km 354: Turnoff for Lake Nemiscau & Old Nemaska. The Cree village used to be there until 1970 when the HBC closed the post and the people were "evacuated" by Quebec-Hydro. "New Nemaska" is at Lake Champion (km 300).

Km 381: Boisrobert Lake. Picnic tables, toilets, boat launching ramp, camping.

Km 406: End of the North Road: junction with the James Bay Road at km 275. This photo is looking east along the North Road at the junction.
Km 406: Rest Area at the junction.
This is on the James Bay Road at Km 275, at the junction with the North Road.

The James Bay Road is paved, which will be a welcome change after 406 km of gravel road!

This concludes the Virtual Tour of the North Road.

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